Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS • Nutritional Periodontist
November 19, 2014
Ian Spreadbury wrote an article in 2012 that changed the way we think about food. He described a theory for what is causing obesity in the modern world. Through a thorough search of the medical literature, he proposed that the food of modern societies that has been causing obesity and many degenerative diseases including periodontal disease is acellular carbohydrates – a highly dense form of carbohydrates. I discussed acellular carbs in my blog titled “What Went Wrong“.
The conspicuous difference between carbohydrates in healthy, whole foods and those in unhealthy foods is that the weight of the total carbohydrates in healthy foods (minus the fiber) is 23% or less of the total weight of the food. Our gut and its healthy resident bacteria never evolved to digest highly dense carbs. The end result from eating highly dense carbohydrates has been serious derangements in many biologic pathways in our bodies.
So what is a healthy way of eating? Although it is very important to eat the right kind of foods, it is even more important NOT to eat the wrong kind of foods. The research suggests that the elimination of dense carbohydrates can go a long way in creating health and preventing disease – including periodontal disease. A diet lifestyle that is compatible to a healthy carbohydrate density is a Paleolithic diet consisting of animal products from head to tail, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. With rare exception, these foods have been shown to have a maximum carbohydrate density of around 23%.
How To Determine Carbohydrate Density
The term “carbohydrate density” means the percent of the food mass that is carbohydrate minus the fiber component. You could calculate the carbohydrate density of any food in which you are interested. It is simple to calculate. Just divide the grams of carbohydrate in food excluding grams of fiber by the total gram weight of the food to get a percentage. The carbohydrate density increases as more non-fibrous carbs are packed into a given quantity of food. As I stated, a healthy carbohydrate density is about 23% or less. Eating foods that have a higher density than 23%, would put more stress on your metabolism and potentially lead to the degenerative diseases seen in modern societies eating processed foods. A website where you can find grams of carbohydrates, grams of fiber and total grams in a food is HERE. Here is how to use this website:
• Go to website page.
• Enter the specific food you are calculating in the space provided on the top of the web page and click “GO”.
• Various preparations for this food will appear. Click on the preparation you desire.
• Note the Grams of Carbohydrate per 100 grams of food, and note the Grams of Fiber per 100 grams of food.
• Subtract the grams of fiber from the grams of carbohydrates to get the non-fibrous grams of carbohydrate per 100 grams of the food. That will be the carbohydrate density of that particular food.
Modern food processing is, unfortunately, very good at boosting carbohydrate density. Here is a list of some foods from low-density to high-density carbohydrates:
Sampling of foods with carbohydrate density ≤ 23% (from lowest to about 23% excluding fiber):
• Macadamia nut
• Kiwi fruit
• Sweet potato
Sampling of modern foods with carbohydrate density > 23% (from 23% to the highest excluding fiber):
• Meat pizza
• White rice
• Rye bread
• Vegetarian pizza
• Multigrain bread
• French fries
• Bran cereal
• White bread
• Potato chips
• Granola bar
• Whole wheat cereal
• Rice cakes